Focusing on high-end custom builders and remodelers has helped David Mosher keep his Buffalo, N.Y.-area lumberyard going despite the slump in new-home construction and the 7 feet of snow that Clarence Center averages every year. Here's how he does it.
How I Started The last owner was here from 1948 until about 1982. I worked for him in college during the summers. When I got out of college, I worked here for a couple of years. Then I stopped in one day to ask him about getting a raise. During that conversation, he told me he wanted to retire and asked me if I wanted to buy the place.
My Routine The yard opens at 7:30 a.m., but I usually get in around 8 a.m. I check in with our yard foreman, the dispatcher, and everyone else. I use that time to set priorities and answer any questions people may have and get everyone headed off in the right path.
Changing Times A lot of people used to decide to do a project based on the idea that they were going to get a home equity loan and it was going to cost them an extra X number of dollars a month in order to have the whole master bedroom suite they always wanted and redo the kitchen. [Today] it's become, "Well, let's just put in new cabinets and a new countertop."
An Eye for Quality I do all the purchasing of lumber and plywood products. Rather than carrying a standard No. 2 grade of 2x4s, everything we carry is select structural. It's a stronger, straighter grade that's going to have less barky edges and it's going to be a nicer stick to work with. Same with plywoods. I carry all the better plywoods–they lay flat, look better, stay nicer.
I buy them from better mills. For treated lumber, I buy No.1 treated; everything has been dried after treatment. There's nobody else in this area that carries that kind of stuff. Our builders know if they want to get something good, go to Mosher Lumber.
What About the Snow? It's not as bad as they make it out to be. We close off one alley in the yard and plow all our snow into there and in the spring it melts away. We don't have to worry about tornadoes or hurricanes or earthquakes or forest fires. It's just some snow.